יום א', ח’ בטבת תשע”ט
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Meled High School of Jerusalem – Dropping In As participants in Western society, we have learned the hard way that "Jewish education for all" is a statistic of 90% success; no less, but unfortunately no more. In Israel, the issue of the 10% failure rate, and the lack of suitable alternatives motivated me to create the Meled high school in Jerusalem nine years ago. One of the ten percent failure rate was my student, "Nati," who recently was awarded a prestigious medal for his valor in saving his army unit while critically injured. The true story is highly dramatic, but emphasizes how Meled dramatically helped a child overcome his disability of severe anxiety. Nati was injured by a bullet in his neck while leading his squad in an offensive in Bet Lechem against Palestinian terrorists. Nati, who as officer and squad leader in the Elite Duvdevan Unit was responsible for carrying out the attack, was responsible for the safety and well being of his soldiers. Nati was a bright kid who came from a good religious family from a large yishuv. Nati went to the local religious public elementary school, got decent grades, and got into a good yeshiva high school. The problems started to creep up in ninth grade, when he started to feel pressured by the rigorous academic requirements. Nati started to suffer from migraines and stomach cramps. He started to cut classes. Nati could not deal with the pressure of school, academically or socially. By the time tenth grade came around, Nati became withdrawn, and stayed home for days at a time. By Purim time, Nati had dropped out of school entirely, was severely depressed and was slowly sinking into oblivion. Nati's parents enrolled him at Meled (Mercaz L'mida Dati), a unique, caring and accepting alternative headed by Dr. Menachem Gottesman, a developmental psychologist. Located in the center of Jerusalem, Meled is a school that puts the student at the center and deals with each student's particular needs. Meled's students have dropped out of school or of life for various reasons. Their background varies from substance abuse, physical and emotional abuse to extremely bright children with learning disabilities to those who have difficulty with the academic and religious pressure of yeshiva education. Meled nurtured Nati in an un-pressured and loving environment, and over the period of two years an amazing metamorphosis took place. Nati learned that his own self imposed expectations were causing him crippling pressure and anxiety. He learned to relax, to be cheerful, and not to be hard on himself, and by the end of the second year he achieved his personal goal - graduation from high school with full matriculation. Nati’s is a unique story, but it is not unique to Meled. Our over 200 graduates are proof of our success. Many of them are alive physically and spiritually today because of our efforts. With our help, Nati was able to overcome being part of a 10% dropout statistic, and proved his worth to his country, his family and, most importantly, to himself. Seventy-five boys and girls are counting on us every day. For some, there are no other chances. Sincerely, Menachem Gottesman, Ph.D Founder and Dean